We have found our new pastor

Brothers, Sisters and Friends of Burlington Presbyterian Church,

It was almost exactly a year ago that your Pastor Nominating Committee was formed. Seven of us were tapped for service: Chuck Anderson, Judy Brunner, Kim Oey-Rosenthal, Brad Morrison, Ferdinand Akombe, Brenda Flynn and Caitlin Rivet. We spent our first few months working diligently on our Mission Information Form (https://burlingtonpres.org/beourpastor/). We carefully crafted our call out to pastors, and in February we were reading our first applications. We read a lot of applications. By my count, the committee has carefully read 131 applications. We’ve met as a committee over 50 times. We interviewed candidates with a video call 23 times. A handful of those candidates, we invited to hour-long conversations. And three times we’ve dedicated a full weekend to really getting to know a pastor – eating with them, interviewing them, driving them from Stoneham to Lowell, and listening to them preach. We’ve talked with candidates from California, Iowa, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. We’ve asked and answered hundreds of questions. We’ve thought deeply about our church, our calling, and what our next steps of the journey would look like.

So it is with great pride and pleasure that I tell you – we have found and invited the pastor we believe God intends to lead us in the next phase of our journey together. That pastor is our own dear Pastor Trina!

We are very excited that this is the case. The PNC didn’t make this decision lightly, nor did Trina. Much prayer and discernment happened on both sides. Over the last year, while we’ve been searching, our congregation has been blossoming in new and exciting ways. Our worship has been growing and evolving, with new sounds and music. Our partnership with the Boston Grace Korean Church has brought vibrancy. Our missions are evolving and enlivening. We’re doing some really neat things together. We are looking forward to even more of that, as we continue to follow God’s calling together in new and unexpected ways. We can already see how well we work together as pastor and congregation, and we think the future is even brighter.

We have asked Trina to take on the role of our pastor, and she has agreed. There are still a few steps to be taken, however.

Candidating Sunday & Congregational Meeting (12 pm), December 17th – In most circumstances, a congregation would not know their new pastor as well as you all know Pastor Trina. Usually the candidating Sunday would be your first chance to meet and hear the new pastor speak. Although hopefully you’ve already had ample opportunity, we are following (and have followed!) the full process for calling a new pastor, including this specific candidating sermon on December 17th. Come and listen with new ears!

After the worship service (and coffee hour) our excellent Committee on Ministry liaison Jane Wilson will lead a congregation meeting, at which we’d like as many voting members as possible to attend. Non-members are welcome to be present, but will not be able to vote. We’ll be taking a counted-ballot vote on approving the Terms of Call for Pastor Trina (which we’ll provide significantly in advance). Mark your calendars!

Presbytery Vote, January 20, 2018 – Once you, the congregation, approve a pastor’s call, the final approval comes from Presbytery. At the Saturday meeting on January 20th, we’re planning to be on the agenda to have our call ratified by the Presbytery. While we are calling a pastor, the Presbytery is affirming a colleague. The Committee on Ministry has already interviewed Pastor Trina and passed on a glowing recommendation, and Pastor Trina is already a member of Presbytery. Hopefully this will be a celebratory vote!

Service of Installation, planned February 4, 2018 3 – 5:30 pm – The very last phase of our journey is a grand party! On this Sunday in early February, we will invite Presbytery to worship and celebrate with us as make official Pastor Trina’s role as our teaching elder. We will mark the end of one phase of our life as a congregation as we move joyously into the future God has ordained for us. If you are at all interested in helping out with this incredibly special day, session is putting a team together for the party planning. We do know this is Superbowl Sunday, but promise that this celebration will make your heart glad.

If you have any questions about the process – what we have done to come to this decision or what needs to yet be done – please do not hesitate to reach out to me or a member of the PNC.

Rejoice with us for this excellent news!

Brenda Flynn
Chair, Pastor Nominating Committee
Presbyterian Church of Burlington

Pastor Nominating Committee

In the journey of our pastoral transition here at BPC, we have essentially completed our mission study. Now, as we move forward with our search for a pastor, the Session has charged the Nominating Committee with the task of identifying a slate of candidates for the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC). Our presbytery explains in a document called “On Calling a Pastor” that “In the PC(USA) call process, the congregation gives authority to search for a pastor to a PNC.”

The BPC Nominating Committee is beginning its work to compile a slate of nominees for the PNC. When a slate of nominees for the PNC is complete, the Nominating Committee will notify the Session and present the slate to the congregation for election. Then, a special meeting of the congregation for the purpose of electing the PNC will be held.

The Nominating Committee is seeking suggestions for candidates to serve on the PNC. It is important for us to find a PNC that is representative of the whole congregation. We should (quoting for “On Calling a Pastor”): “consider church members of integrity who are:
· knowledgeable about the church and community, Presbyterian theology and government;
· able to make a significant commitment of their time, energy, and very best wisdom;
· willing to accept this as a task of spiritual discernment, not being easily influenced by personal desires or congregational politics, but rather listening for the voice of God; and
· able to honor confidentiality.”

We encourage everyone to prayerfully consider members who you think will be effective contributors to the PNC. Please make suggestions to the Nominating Committee by sending an email to Brad Morrison. Please include the name of the person you would like us to consider and also a few sentences about why you think this person is a good choice, what talents he or she brings to the discernment and search process, or how his or her presence on the PNC will make it a stronger group for our search. We encourage you to suggest yourself if you are interested, and we encourage you to suggest as many names as you care to submit. (If you do not have access to email for whatever reason, please speak with one of the members of the Nominating Committee, listed below, and we will help.) We are especially interested in finding a PNC that can harness some of the rich diversity among our congregation (and community), bring multiple perspectives to their work, and work together in the good service of our congregation and our God.

Yours in prayer,
Your BPC Nominating Committee

Cookie Swap with a twist

Today Burlington Presbyterian Church was blessed with two exciting events. First, we held our “cookie swap with a twist”. Families brought batches of Christmas cookies, which were then divided into gift bags to be given to the guests at The Dwelling Place. It was hard for the kids (and grownups) to keep away from the goodies, but we all thought about how much it would mean to the recipients as we packed them into festive bags.

Then, who should arrive but St. Nicholas? And no, I don’t mean a guy who drives a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, I mean the third-century sainted Bishop Nicholas of Myra. The kids and grownups all enjoyed listening to the story of this early man of faith.

Here are some pictures of the cookie-packing and Bishoping! If you’re sad you couldn’t join us today, don’t miss out next week, December 19th, when we go on our annual caroling caravan – 2:30 from the church with a dinner to follow in Stoneham!

St. Nicholas addresses the children
St. Nicholas addresses the children

Cookie packaging goes on behind Nicholas
Cookie packaging goes on behind Nicholas

Some grownups prefer the kids' chairs
Some grownups prefer the kids' chairs

I'd accept a dowry of cookies, wouldn't you?
I'd accept a dowry of cookies, wouldn't you?


One more view of St. Nicholas
One more view of St. Nicholas

Whitey Graham’s Last Sermon

Our beloved member, Whitey Graham, died unexpectedly a few days before he was due to deliver the Sunday message. He had finished writing the sermon he intended to give. Here is a transcript of his sermon.

When I was asked to preach this week, I figured that I had not done this for several years, so how hard could it be! Then the reality set in, and I had to sit down and write this sermon.

I searched the scriptures and tried to figure out how to write a sermon about a King who was dancing around the Ark, or a king with mixed emotions about to behead a prophet. Great choices…

Then I looked at what I had preached about before and decided those subjects were talked out. So I guess my faith would be a good topic.

Webster defined faith as “a belief and trust in God or a religious conviction”. I think the poet Paulene Dishmon says it best:

    The origin of faith
    Is from God above.
    It’s a gift he offers
    To all in love.

    We cannot muster faith
    In a minute, an hour.
    It’s the result of belief
    In the creator’s power.

    We can build, share
    Care, plant a seed
    But faith is a blessing
    He gives as we need.

I believe we were put here for some reason, and someday my faith will point that out to me. In the mean time, I will just try to figure it out.

When I first became a Mason, I was asked in whom I put my trust. It being in God, I was told to take the arm of my Conductor, and fear no danger. My faith in God would help during my path. I have tried to follow that path all my life.

When life dealt me some bad or terrible things, I placed my life in the hands of God, and somehow or other, the bad always comes and goes. The good always outlives the bad and life goes on.

When my mother said she would like to see my children before she died, something drew me to Sears, where my future wife was working, and great things happened. First marriage, then three of the greatest kids any family would want, and an additional couple of hundred others who needed direction and help, who have become children of our hearts.

I’m sure many of you have heard this story before, but after we were married, I became a Presbyterian, and we traveled to Quincy every Sunday until Alex arrived. Jean asked why we didn’t go to the Presbyterian Church here in Burlington. Sounded good to me, so here we came, and after being chased down the hall by Mark Wells after checking the spot on the welcome pad “Interested in Joining”, we joined with another couple. And here we are some 20 years later, and still loving it.

Our faith has helped us to be Elders, Deacons, teach Sunday School (including me as a Jr. High teacher and making it through all those interesting questions of the Jr. Highers). Cooking Easter Breakfast for those 20 odd years. And my favorite is cooking for the folks at the Dwelling Place.

Every class of new members is asked about their faith journey. Mine was simple. I moved from Lexington Street to Cambridge Street, from the oldest to one of the newest churches in Burlington. Boring, but before I met Jean, my faith had floundered a bit, and she gave me some new direction.

After losing my job of 30 years, faith directed my family to caring for those 200 plus kids we’ve had.

Believe me when I say these kids can test your faith, but with prayer and the Lord’s guidance, we seem to get through it.

After Vickie died, I thought my life was over, but faith kept me going and God sent Barbara back to us, along with Ryan. Although it’s not the same, it kept us going and once again the direction changed and faith played a huge part of it.

Faith is a funny thing. Just when you think you have lost it, there it is again. Our faith has been rattled by the Commonwealth many times, but faith has kept us on track and still doing what we love to do.

Our commitment to all these kids has been unwavering and even those who tested our faith to the extreme limits still remain in our hearts.

You can really make a difference in the world, even if it is only one child at a time, and that’s what we’ve come to understand.

Former First Lady Hilary Clinton wrote the book, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” and she is correct. You are our village, and we thank you all for that.

You renew our faith every time we come to this village.

We seem to be continually asking for God’s help to overcome fear and resistance. At any step our belief in God has us praying all the time. It might not be the drop down on your knees type of prayer all the time, but simple requests for guidance.

Climate Change, Poverty, and Preserving the Planet: Will Our Voices Be Heard?

Very few scientists now question the assertion that humans are responsible for global warming, and that much of the world as we know it is threatened with its effects. Many evangelical churches have joined progressive denominations in calling for deep measures to stave off catastrophe.

This is the year, this is the time: Will our voices be heard?

Environmental crisis meets poverty in a desperate combination. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says an additional 40 to 170 million poor people are at risk of hunger and malnutrition in this century, and 1 to 2 billion people already in poor areas could see further reduction in their water supplies. More than 100 million people could be affected by coastal flooding…these and other changes could quickly produce a refugee crisis with as many as 200 million displaced persons by 2050.

This is the year, this is the time: Will our voices be heard?

It’s expected that as early as this summer Congress will, for the first time, vote on comprehensive climate change legislation. At this writing The American Clean Energy and Security Act is being debated in a House committee (MA Representative Ed Markey is one of the prime movers). An important piece of it should be introducing a cap on greenhouse emissions with businesses required to hold permits to emit them: more emissions will cost more; reductions will cost less; and those under the limit may even be able to earn by selling to their less clean neighbors (thanks to Jim Wallis in Sojourners e-zine for this description).

There will be other important parts to this legislation, including support for more vulnerable populations to adapt to changes. But certainly it can be expected that there will be strong opposition and lobbying against it.

This is the year, this is the time: Will our voices be heard?

Why not take a few minutes today to contact your Representative and be heard? Although you may feel you know his point of view, the cumulative support for change needs to be felt to move Congress and our country to responsible decision. And be prepared to continue this witness as the legislation proceeds during the year.

Let’s act to be stewards of God’s Creation.